The Light Brigade
The UK ambassador to the UK is about to hand in the letter from Mrs May triggering the departure of the UK from the EU.
Reminds me of that other famous note which triggered the charge of the Light Brigade:
The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854, in the Crimean War. Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to prevent the Russians removing captured guns from overrun Turkish positions, a task well-suited to light cavalry. However, due to miscommunication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire.
Although the Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire and scattered some of the gunners, the badly mauled brigade was forced to retreat immediately. Thus, the assault ended with very high British casualties and no decisive gains.
One has to hope the result of the withdrawal from the EU will not be similar.
At first glance, there are no real similarities between the two events. However, they both provide an insight into the British psyche and character which has evolved through many years of great success and great disappointment.
I once read a book called True Brit. I have tried to track it down but with no success. Since I don't know who wrote it, Wikipedia has not been very helpful.
I can tell you the gist of the thesis of this book: many of the ideas associated with Britain are just rubbish and the product of the English penchant for myopia and myth-generation.
So, the idea that (for example) that Parliamentary democracy is Britain's gift to the world, so widely accepted by the British, is really an excuse for poor government which betrays most of the principles of representative democracy.
Whoa! That can't be right, surely! (Don't call me Shirley, please,)
What the British fail to recognise is that the UK is not a parliamentary democracy – it's a Kingdom. Sovereignty resides with the monarch – not parliament. Convention – in the absence of a written constitution - (the absence of which is a perverse source of pride to the British) has evolved into the idea that the monarch has no political power and that Parliament is sovereign. But, it is only a convention. The fact is: there is no real, effective check on the powers of Parliament. Essentially, Parliament can do anything.
Witness the EU Referendum. Most people don't realise that the Act of Parliament setting up the referendum established a consultation. UK politicians were not obliged to do anything after the result. So, what happened? They wimped out and fell over themselves to spout the party line. Result: the Tories make all the running and Parliament is mostly over-looked.
(Whoa, just today (18 April) Mrs May has called a snap General Election! Well, actually she didn't: she wants to but has to ask Parliament to overturn the Parliament Act which legislated for fixed term five year Parliaments. Once again the mother of Parliaments proves itself completely powerless to hold the executive to account! Democracy? Not a chance.)
Another pillar of the True Brit is the legal system. Parades of judges with funny-looking wigs on is supposed to inspire awe in the populace and insure legal scrutiny of the executive. The actuality is that the English judiciary is a hide-bound, antiquated oligarchy which is there to protect the status quo – not insure justice for the majority of people.
Examples of the judiciary working against the rights of citizens are wide-spread. Let's just focus on Brexit by way of example. Great play was given when judges prevented the PM from triggering Article 50 – the part of the EU treaty which provides for countries to leave.
(BTW I'd love to find out who the brilliant EU strategist was who decided to put Article 50 into a treaty. Folks might remember the USA had a costly civil war on the subject. One of the contentions was that the Confederate States had a right to secede from the Union. Good thing there was no Article 50 then!)
What actually happened was that the judiciary had no framework to account for Brexit, so they made one up as they went along. The lack of proper scrutiny again worked in favour of the Establishment. Result, a delay and a lot of self-back-slapping before Article 50 was invoked. The funny thing? The judges were pilloried by the rabid Brexiteers for daring to uphold the rule of law. You couldn't make it up!
How about the True Brit police? More drivel is pedalled by the Establishment about the police than any other pillar of True-Brit-ism.
Just a small example. You may remember that poor Brazilian John Charles de Menezes. He's they guy who was sitting on a tube and got shot 7 times in the head for his troubles. Tragic. A big mistake! Everyone agrees on that.
Who was in charge of this operation – none other than the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick. She is and will always be the most aptly named police person in history.
True Brit holds that Britain is an orderly, well-disciplined and law-abiding society. Crap. Throughout history Britain has set new standards in lawlessness and barbarity. Only recently did this myth of a namby-pamby UK appear.